At 53, Fabienne, a member from Carenity France, has several interrelated conditions, including Lyme disease, depression, bipolar disorder, obesity, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. After many years of testing and taking medication, she is now following a gluten-free, lactose-free and sugar-free diet and has told us about the positive effects she is seeing with her health.
Hello Fabienne, thank you for agreeing to speak with us. When did the symptoms of your different pathologies begin?
I started getting episodes of depression at the age of 18 in 1983. I was taking antidepressants but I made 2 suicide attempts. The disease worsened with the birth of my children: I was hospitalized in a psychiatry unit and diagnosed as bipolar in 2001, after the birth of my second child. I have had 18 jobs and I've been yo-yoing with my weight all my life. I lost 130 kg and gained it with other extra kilos, mainly because of the antidepressant that I was taking. I went from 74kg with the height of 1m73 to 147kg at the peak.
As for type 2 diabetes, I was diagnosed in 2010, it seems to me, but I could have had it before, because I was already obese. I didn't really have any symptoms, just fatigue after eating. My mother had manic depression with hallucinatory episodes (I later discovered frm the psychogenealogy that she was reliving her father's death and, moreover, the disease began when her father died) and she too ended up obese and diabetic with psychotropic drugs because she never succeeded with a diet in her life... My glycated hemoglobin was 7.89 with metformin 650, 3 times a day.
How did you hear about the benefits of a gluten-free, lactose-free and sugar-free diet? Did a health professional recommend it to you?
It came to me by chance. One day, on a Facebook group, I listed my symptoms thinking that it was due to my obesity (statement from my general practitioner). One member told me to find out about Lyme disease, which I did, and afterwards my Lyme specialist advised me to try this diet. I didn't want to do it at first because I was too busy to follow such a strict diet.
How did you set up this diet on a daily basis? Did you proceed step by step?
The Lyme's specialist didn't give me any instructions, so I took it easy. My partner helped me by putting the whole family on the diet to avoid temptation. I didn't want to go on any more diets, I didn't believe in it at all. The Lyme's specialist prescribed chromium granium to get me used to not eating sugar or fake sugar anymore.
So I looked at all the labels of the products I was eating and we ended up shopping online because it was too long to look at each label in the store. We started emptying all the cupboards of all the products that contained gluten, lactose and sugar...
How long did it take you to feel better? What are the advantages of such a regime?
As time went on, my health improved, my mood improved, and so many little things I had gotten used to. Lyme disease, but also diabetes (I'm at 5.20 without medication, the doctor said my diabetes is in remission), hypertension, depression... in total, I stopped 5 medications. No more migraines, no more pain from cervical osteoarthritis, but I had a calcaneal spine and I was relieved by stopping the sunflower and peanut oil.
I feel better, healthier, lighter, fit and happy, it even affects my mood. I no longer take any psychotropic drugs thanks to psycho-genealogy and a psychiatrist who helped me to stop everything.
I drink barley grass juice every morning to alkalize my body... I have lost 27 kilos and I am planning to lose 40 kilos to test the effects on sleep apnea. It would be great if I could take off the mask!
What do you replace milk with?
I never liked milk anyway but I loved cheese. I replace milk with almond or coconut milk, I know there are "fake cheeses" but I don't want to try them because cheese has made me too sick in the past. I discovered that I was lactose and casein intolerant.
I think there is no crucial need to replace these products, we can live without them. By reading the labels I became convinced that supermarket products poison us and create the epidemic of obesity and diabetes. There is sugar everywhere and in high doses... And we know that sugar calls for more sugar and makes us consume more and more, it is a drug and after a month or two, we never want it again, fruit is enough...
Many people are learning about the aesthetic effects (better skin) of a lactose-free diet, have you noticed any changes?
I don't look at my skin too much, but my teenage children had far fewer pimples when they were participating in this approach!
Do you buy gluten-free and sugar-free products, such as cookies?
I continue to eat gluten-free bread: a slice of bread in the morning with sunflower oil margarine. I also know that corn flour has a strong GI, so I prefer to avoid all these products.
I prefer to eat foods that do not contain gluten naturally, I am wary of processed products. All cookies contain sugar so I don't touch them anymore either. This is not too hard because, as I told you, stopping sugar means that you no longer have to be "drugged" by sugar. There are many videos on this subject "One year without sugar", there is also an Arte show on sugar.
Do you still eat sweet things?
I just have a cake I like. I prepare it by removing the 100 grams of sugar and adding fruit. Once a year I buy a gluten-free, lactose-free and sugar-free cake using puff pastry because I'm really not good enough to make it myself! For the delicacies, at first I mixed coconut powder with cocoa powder. For Christmas, my partner made me chocolate truffles with far too much cocoa, it kept me awake! Next year, we'll try it with peanut butter...
I eat almonds or cashews at 4p.m. with a piece of fruit. I was no longer losing weight because I had stopped Levothyrox because it caused me to become depressed with suicidal desires. For a year, I didn't lose a gram, on the contrary I gained 5kg, which means that not everything is cured...
Do you eat meat? How often do you recommend doing so?
I eat less and less meat, perhaps a chicken from a local breeder once a month maximum. However, I eat fish and eggs every morning. I have a salty breakfast with a slice of gluten-free bread. I think I'll need more time to reduce the meat and fish, because I like it, and I already find that I've eliminated a lot of things. I would recommend doing as you please and as you can because meat is expensive.
Do you take vitamins and food supplements?
I just take vitamin D in the winter, that's all. I noticed that I never have colds anymore, this diet also seems to have an effect on colds. On the Facebook group of people on gluten-free, lactose-free and casein-free diets, there are many testimonials from people with asthma who have been cured by eliminating dairy products. Here at Carenity, there are people with MS who are seeing their health improve. Just look at the 100 diseases that have been silenced thanks to the Seignalet diet to get an idea of the health benefits of eating... I even saw a testimonial from the mother of an autistic child whose health is also improving thanks to gluten-free and lactose-free.
Has this diet had any impact on your social life? Is it more difficult to go out to eat? What do your loved ones think?
I have to be cautios of vegetables cooked in butter, but in restaurant chains, waiters and cooks have the list of allergens and I just ask them. I still prefer the little restaurants where they go to great lengths to make me a fruit dessert. This summer during a vacation for the first time in 3 years, I was able to eat fruit desserts, it was really nice!
My brother-in-law doesn't have to worry about it, he makes a dish that doesn't contain gluten or milk, like paella, coconut chicken or pot au feu. On the other hand, my mother-in-law takes the trouble to make sophisticated dishes and she still has trouble understanding that I am not supposed to eat dairy products, even without lactose, because they always contain casein that will make me sick the next day: migraine, neck pain and severe fatigue to the point of staying in bed all day.
Apart from that, it's fine, I make myself a mixed salad for all the other occasions, the cold buffets are impeccable for me, for the appertizers I enjoy to eat vegetables but also cashews and even chips.
Do you particularly miss any foods?
At first yes! I missed cheese in all its forms, pizzas, fondue, raclette... Now no, on the contrary, the smell of cheese bothers me, everything that is fresh cream, white cheese and yoghurt really disgust me. I didn't think I could watch others eat cakes without wanting to eat one too but now I can. I don't have the courage because I don't want to, there's no frustration at all. I know that if I eat a bite, the next day I'll be sick. When I see all the progress I've made in terms of health and weight loss, I really don't want to miss out.
Finally, our tastes change over time. My diet has allowed me to discover many other recipes and I don't feel it as a diet that prohibits me from eating, but as an opportunity to discover other dishes. On the other hand, if I no longer eat sugar, I allow myself the fats: peanut butter has become my delicacy! But I check that it contains no more than 5% sugar and, like all delicacies, I don't eat it often.
Do you know of any cookbooks or websites that would help other members start such a diet?
I made a Pinterest file with lots of recipes but just mark the name of a dish and add gluten and lactose free to find lots of recipes on the Internet. The only name that comes to mind is the blog "La cuisine de Gin": it explains a lot of things in addition to the recipes. I used to hate cooking. I always make simple dishes, but now I like it. You can also make complicated recipes, there is something for everyone on the Internet.
Are there any immediate adverse effects if you eat a something you have not eaten for a while again?
I am lactose and casein intolerant and slipping up causes me to have migraines and neck pain, I end up staying in bed the next day, it's very unpleasant. I am not intolerant to gluten, yet I realized that my stomach bloats if I eat gluten, it is hard, I have trouble digesting and I gain 1 or 2 kilos for a single meal... It really destroys the desire to eat any gluten. For sugar, I wanted to eat a sweet fruit puree and I did not find it good. I found that the sugar overpowered the taste of fruit.
What advice would you give to a diabetic patient who wants to start this diet?
Start by removing sugar and fake sugars, some heal only like that. If this does not work, dairy products and gluten are eliminated. I recommend this diet to many people suffering from other diseases: skin diseases, asthma, MS, migraine, fibromyalgia... Since it was a person I didn't know on Facebook who told me about this diet, it's my way of thanking them.
Any final words?
Hippocrates said "food is our first medicine". I only regret one thing: not having known this diet before, I could have had a healthy life... Taking charge of your health is very rewarding! I wish you all to find your way to recovery.